Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Stargate.
The first thing she felt was pain. Sadly the second thing she felt was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards whatever higher being was watching over her. Pain meant that she was alive. And alive meant that she wasn’t dead. And dead was bad. Therefore Pain was good. The third thing she felt was confusion. Had she gotten worse for some reason? But the doctors had said that she was steadily improving, and that her internal injuries were healed. And her arms and legs didn’t hurt much anymore, the pain was coming from inside. And it wasn’t very likely that she could get fresh injuries while lying in the hospital protected by Xander, Finn’s Commandos, and layers and layers of Rosenberg’s spells.
Then her brain started working a little better, the fog lifted, and Zabby noticed that this was not the same bed she had fallen asleep in. Most likely she wasn’t even in the same hospital that she had fallen asleep in. Her arms were touching the bed railing on either side, which meant that the bed was quite narrow. And she distinctly remembered overhearing two nurses talking about how the last old and narrow bed in the hospital had finally been replaced with a newer, wider, more high-tech version.
Keeping her eyes shut, just in case, she sniffed the air, trying to identify the smells. She smelled Antiseptic and cleaning agents, the typical hospital smells. Unfortunately modern hospitals all smelled the same, and that didn’t help her much.
She forced herself to monitor her breathing for a few seconds. It wouldn’t do any good to keep her eyes shut if the too shallow breaths gave her away. Then Zabby focused on the sounds. First thing she noticed was a person sleeping by her bed. It wasn’t Xander. This person had soft almost inaudible snores. Xander either didn’t snore, or he snored loud enough to be heard through walls.
The snores were coming from close to the bed and seemed to be a little below the level of the bed. So it wasn’t another patient, since another bed would be farther away and on the same level. That made her feel a lot safer. People who meant her harm probably wouldn’t have fallen asleep next to her. Especially since her wrists were unrestrained.
Then Zabby heard a sliding sound (a door possibly?) and heard footsteps coming closer. She heard the sliding sound again just as the smell of food hit her nose. She was engulfed by a moment of panic, wondering how they knew that she was awake, and then calmed down when she heard the newcomer say:
“Sir?” the newcomer was a woman, who sounded like she was addressing the person sleeping next to Zabby. “Colonel? I brought you some food.” That interrupted the snoring.
“Wha’?” A male voice this time. He continued with some muffled curses, finally followed by a “Carter?”
“Yes, sir. I brought some food up from the Cafeteria.” The woman, Carter, said. Both of them sounded military, and Zabby wondered if these were Riley Finn’s guys. She didn’t know all of them, and it was quite possible that she simply hadn’t met these two.
“Thanks.” The Colonel said. There was sounds of movement, though Zabby couldn’t quite tell what was being moved.
“She still asleep then, huh?” That came from the female.
“Janet says it’s a good thing. Apparently the internal damage wasn’t as bad as it they thought at first, because most of her vitals are now almost back to normal. But they still don’t want her moving around too much in case she aggravates something, and for some reason Janet has decided to practice old fashioned kind of medicine, and hope that she won’t wake up too soon, instead of giving her drugs like normal doctors would. ” Okay, internal damage would explain why everything hurt. She had to give the Colonel guy credit for sounding concerned about her, even if he did want to drug her. Usually, bad guys didn’t worry about the welfare of their victims, and Doctor Sherman had also been a member of the ‘Drug Zabby so she doesn’t Move’ Club’.
“You mean nobody told you sir?” This was followed by silence, and Zabby suspected that there was a lot of non-verbal communication going on. “She had a lot of drugs in her. Janet is trying to flush them out of her system, because her blood contains enough sedatives to knock out an elephant. I don’t even want to know what that would do to an underweight kid.” Zabby bristled silently. She wasn’t a kid! And she wasn’t underweight either, at least not by Slayer standards. Slayer metabolism made gaining weight practically impossible.
“She was drugged?!?” The guy yelled, apparently outraged. Hypocritical much? “You think she was being held somewhere against her will?”
“That’s the part that doesn’t make any sense. I tracked down her previous location. It was a St. Marian’s Hospital, in the middle of their recovery ward.”
“You mean she was overdosed by accident?”
“No. That’s the problem. Janet says that she’s heard of St. Marian’s. It has an impeccable reputation, and they hire only the best doctors. Elizabeth’s x-rays reveal that she had numerous broken bones, most likely from being hit with a car, but these injuries are months old. They were mostly healed over. Yet she was still wearing heavy plaster casts, and she was most likely still confined to a bed. At this point in her recovery, any doctor with half a brain would have made sure that she was in physical therapy, and she most certainly didn’t need the plaster casts. It’s just too much of a coincidence, that she was not only completely drugged out of her mind, but also administered the wrong type of treatment, especially since she was being treated in a respectable hospital, and not by some quack with an online Medical degree. We’re trying to get her medical records to see if they can tell us something, but that might take a while.”
Zabby took a moment to process what the woman had unknowingly revealed. They knew her name, but they didn’t seem to know about the Slayer. The man also seemed to be very protective of her. These would have been reassuring if she could figure out why someone other than Xander would care just about Elizabeth.
Second, she guessed that whatever had caused her new internal injuries, must have been very life threatening. Xander helped her come to terms with the Slayer by letting her read texts of Slayers’ accomplishments despite the Council. Several of the text’s Xander had found talked about how in moments of great danger, Slayer Healing became an even more powerful force than usual. There was one Slayer in Florence, whose broken leg healed in a matter of hours, while she was held hostage by Master Vamp. Most likely her older injuries, and her newer ones had healed themselves quite rapidly when she was in danger. Now if only she knew what that danger was.
Unfortunately the two people in the room with her, didn’t seem inclined to talk anymore, and after a few minutes the woman made her excuses, something about having to call a contact, and then left.
There was a sound of metal hitting something, and Zabby thought it sounded the guy was going to eat his food now. She suspected that Colonels in the U.S. military weren’t usually the types who talked to themselves, so she was left without a source of information. She weighed the pros and cons of ‘waking up’. On one hand they were more likely to say something they didn’t want her knowing, if they thought she was unconscious. On the other hand a doctor could come in here at any moment and take a look at the machines and realize that she wasn’t asleep. That would make them suspicious of her, which wouldn’t be very good for her chances of her learning anything important. Suspicious people were cautious people.
So waking up it was. Besides she could always play the ‘sick child’ card, and pretend to be really freaked out by a new environment. She could probably claim that everything was all fuzzy, and she didn’t quite remember what happened. They knew that she had a lot of drugs in her system, and they didn’t seem to know about her Slayer metabolism so they most likely wouldn’t think anything odd about her being dazed and confused. Besides she was still in a lot of pain, and while her years of council training and her experience as a Slayer meant that her pain threshold was fairy high, most normal girls her age would hardly be able to think when they were in this much pain.
She started with a low moan. Then she let her eyes flutter open. She was looking at a grey concrete
ceiling with pipes on them. Another moan of pain, and she shut her eyes. There were steps coming towards her and a concerned voice was saying “Hey, it’s all right.”
“Hurts” she grasped. Then she wondered if she was laying it on too thick but the guy was already gone apparently to call the doctor. She heard him saying ‘Doc she’s awake’, and guessed that since she hadn’t heard the door, he must be speaking to a phone, or maybe some sort of intercom.
She opened the eyes slowly to look at the Colonel. Military fatigues, Military haircut, mid to late forties. And right now he looked very uncomfortable.
“Who a’e you” she slurred the ‘are’ a little, to seem a more disoriented. The more they thought of her as confused and pathetic, the less likely they were to be cautious of her.
“I’m Jack.” Jack said, looking even more uncomfortable.
“I don’t know any Jacks.” She observed. He was currently her most likely source of information. He seemed to be really worried about her, and he was a Colonel. That was high enough up the food chain that he would probably know what was going on here. Wherever here was.
“We’ve never met.” Now he looked like he was trying to blend into the wall. Fortunately for him, the piece of metal that served as a door slid open, and a woman who was obviously the doctor stepped in. Through the door, Zabby saw more grey concrete with some uniformed men and women going somewhere. So either this was a military hospital, or she was in the infirmary of a medical base. Jack breathed a sight of relief.
“Miss Johnson. I’m glad to see you’re awake.” The doctor said. And Zabby’s heart froze.
The last person who knew her as Elizabeth Johnson was George Travers, the spoiled, and only son of Quentin Travers. She couldn’t control the shiver that ran up her spine. The Great Bastard had the power to scare her even two years after his death.
Travers, the younger, had trained two Potentials who hadn’t been Called. That had made him furious, since George had really wanted to go down in History as one of the Greatest Watchers ever. On the day Zabby’s mother had told him to get lost, Travers had read a prophecy about a great Slayer who would fight the Gods. Zabby never knew what the prophecy actually said, since Travers only mentioned it once in passing, but she suspected that the prediction had referred to Buffy and Glory.
But for some reason Travers became convinced that Zabby was the Slayer mentioned in the prophecy.
Of course George Travers had to be the one who trained the Slayer powerful enough to take on Gods. And no pathetic mother would stand in his way. He hired mercenaries to take Zabby from her school, and had set out to train her. Had he been anyone but the Head Watcher’s son, he would have been fired just for the mercenaries, who were much more high profile than the Council could stand. His ‘methods of training’ would also not have been acceptable.
But she hadn’t seen George Travers in almost eight years, and no one, not even Xander, knew that she had been born Elizabeth Johnson, since she hadn’t used her real last name, since the time she ran away.
Which brought about the question of how these people knew her name. She shut her eyes and pretended that the pain was getting to her, in an effort to buy herself some time to think. Thinking quickly she decided that the confused and sick child act was still her best bet for figuring out just what the hell was going on. And she could always ignore the ‘Miss Johnson’ part of the question for now. There had to be advantages to being a drugged, underweight, kid, after all.
“You’re not Bernie.” She told the doctor instead.
“No, I’m not. My name is Doctor Frasier. Who’s Bernie?”
“My doctor.” Of course she would never dare call Doctor Bernard Sherman, Bernie, but these people didn’t need to know that. Doctor Sherman was one of these distinguished silver haired doctors, whom you could never imagine yourself calling anything but Doctor, not even in the privacy of your own head. But she had heard enough of Xander’s stories about the Initiative, to realize that if these guys, or their superiors, got a hold of her hospital records, while she was hurt, and isolated from Xander, with no idea how to get home, and even less knowledge about how she got here. And she had absolutely no desire to help these guys tie a noose around her neck by telling them her Doctor’s last name and making it easier for them to get a hold of her medical records.
“Where am I? Where’s Bernie?” Even to her own ears she sounded hysterical, so Zabby gave herself a mental pat on the back. Hysteria was only to be expected from a sick and drugged child.
“It’s all right, you’re safe. Nobody is going to hurt you.” Doctor Frasier tried to soothe her. Zabby did notice that the woman ignored her questions.
“What happened? Where am I?” She let her voice take on an even more hysterical pitch.
“You’re in a hospital. You were badly injured.” Doctor Frasier said using her soothing voice again. Zabby had to bite her tongue to keep herself from answering the Doc with a ‘why thank you Dr. Obvious.’
“How?” she asked instead. This time she didn’t have to fake the quiver in her voice, though thankfully the two people in the room seemed to attribute the unsteadiness to fear instead of anticipation.
“There was an accident.” The woman whose name should have been Dr. Evasive told her.
“A car crash? O god! I don’t remember.” Zabby knew that it couldn’t have been car crash since her injuries weren’t consistent with that kind of accident, but the average Jane Doe would not be expected to know that kind of thing. And the Doctor’s answer to her assumption could be quite telling.
“That’s not surprising. But don’t worry your memory will come back in time.” The doctor gave her a smile, apparently trying to make her feel better. “Now how are you feeling?”
“Everything hurts.” Zabby answered allowing her voice to shake a little.
The Doc then continued asking her medical questions, which Zabby tried to answer as
truthfully as possible, except for a few slight exaggerations about the amount of pain she was in. And while the doctor was conducting a physical exam, Zabby started taking stock of her condition. She was as weak as a kitten, and when the doctor needed her to sit up so that she could listen to Zabby’s lungs, Zabby was unable to sit up on her own. Her slayer hearing was also not as sensitive as it normally would be. And she definitely didn’t have to lie to the Doc when she told the older woman about the dizziness she was experiencing.
All of this really didn’t bode well for her chance of escape. And the worst part was that the Colonel guy, who seemed so concerned about her before was still standing next to the wall, his face perfectly blank. She had really been counting on his sympathy to keep her from harm. But the fact that the doctor misled her about the nature of her injuries, and the blankness on Colonel Jack’s face made her suspect that everything wasn’t going to be fine.
She forced her mind to relax. Even with all the drugs still in her system, she was too scared
to sleep, but if she slipped deep enough into her meditation, she might be able to convince the doctor otherwise. And meditating might allow her to pick up on a solution, that was currently escaping her mind.
She imagined the apartment that she had lived in, before Traver’s took her away from her mother. It was the only place where she had always felt safe and protected. She let the sound of pans and pots banging from the kitchen wash over her. To her the sound was as soothing as the sound of waves was to other people. Her mother loved to cook.
Dimly she was aware that the doctor and the colonel were leaving the room, but that wasn’t
enough to snap her out of the haze she was in.
Colonel O’Neill stepped out into the hall, and then sagged against the wall. Elizabeth had been so confused, so lost, and in so much pain, that it had brought out every parental instinct that he had ever had. And sick children were meant to be comforted, though he had stayed away from her knowing that a hug from a man she had never met before was the last thing she needed. He had tried to keep his face as blank as possible, and let Dr. Frasier do her job, knowing that interfering would probably only scare Elizabeth.
“Is that normal?” he asked the doctor who had followed him out of the room. “You know that she fell asleep like that?”
“Falling asleep was very normal, Colonel. Her waking up at all is what surprises me. With the amount of drugs in her system, I didn’t expect her to be coherent for a while.”
“But she will be okay? Right?” He hated how desperate his voice sounded but he seemed to be unable to help himself.
“I don’t think her condition is quite as bad as we assumed at first, but then internal injuries are usually tricky and it’s really too early to give you a definite timeline. Nonetheless, she seems to be healing nicely.”
“Just doing my job, Colonel. Though if I may say, I would recommend that you figure out what happened and what exactly you are planning on telling Miss Johnson about her injuries. I don’t like misleading my patients, even if I’m fairly confident that she won’t remember this conversation.”
With that Janet headed briskly towards her office.
Jack headed in the other direction, intending to fill Carter in on the fact that Elizabeth’s Doctor had been a man named Bernie. The Major wasn’t in her office, so Jack simply left her a small post-it note on her desk with the information and headed out.
The real problem was that before they could find a believable cover story for her presence
here, they needed to know something about Elizabeth’s circumstances before. And they were hitting brick walls whenever they tried to find anything about her.
You’d have thought that if a patient vanishes in a flash of light from a recovery ward the whole hospital would have known about it. Instead the hospital seemed to have absolutely no record of Elizabeth Johnson or of a patient who disappeared without any explanation. And as far as Carter had been able to tell, the ward in which Elizabeth had been located had officially been closed for Renovation for months.
All of which made Jack very anxious. He had a kid who had been taken from her school by apparent professional. That kid had been missing for ten years and presumed dead, only to be discovered, drugged out of her mind, in a hospital that had no record of her presence there. Right now all sorts of theories were rushing around in his head, each worse, than the next.
The worst of it was that there just wasn’t that much he could do. Their only link was the hospital. Carter was working her magic on the computer, trying to find everything she could on St. Marian’s. Daniel and Teal’c were currently in the air on their way to New York. At first Jack had wanted to travel with them, but in the end he decided to stay here with Elizabeth. And besides, what Daniel couldn’t charm out of people, Teal’c could intimidate out of them. They didn’t really need him. And Elizabeth might just need someone to hold her hand, even if she wasn’t conscious and aware of it.
With that thought in mind he headed back to his daughter’s room.